The bird flu or 'avian flu' outbreak has been reported in four states--Kerala, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, whereas Haryana is on high alert due to abnormal deaths at a poultry farm in Panchkula. According to the PIB release, a total of 4,30,267 birds have died in Barwala, Panchkula in past 25 days in Haryana.
Other states like, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra have asked all their districts to be on high alert and to take preventive measures. The Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying have asked other states to keep a vigil on unusual mortality of birds.
Here are 10 points about the bird flu outbreak in the country:
1. The current bird flu outbreak comes barely a few months after India on September 30, 2020, declared the country free from the disease. India notified the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006.
2. There are 12 epicentres in four states where the bird flu outbreak has been reported in crows. These include Baran, Kota, Jhalawar and Jaipur (Rajasthan); Kangra (Himachal Pradesh); Indore and Mandsaur, Agar-Malwa, Khargone, Sehore (in Madhya Pradesh); Alappuzha and Kottayam (Kerala).
3. In Kerala's Alappuzha, a total of 17,326 birds have been culled and a total of 8kg feed and 42 eggs were destroyed on Wednesday. This is the third bird flu outbreak to have struck Alappuzha in the past seven years. In 2014, thousands of ducks were infected from the flu.
4. Over 69,00 birds, including ducks and chickens have been culled in Kerala's Alappuzha and Kottayam districts to contain the H5N8 strain of bird flu on Wednesday.
5. Unusual moralities have been found in 7,111 domestic birds in Haryana, 150 wild birds in Madhya Pradesh, 10 crows in Gujarat, 336 migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh yesterday.
6. Bird flu outbreaks have been affecting poultry around the globe for decades. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam are the six countries that are considered to be endemic for the H5N1 virus in poultry.
7. In India, the first outbreak of bird flu happened in 2006. According to the department of animal husbandry, 25 episodes of H5N1 bird flu in poultry in 15 states occurred between 2006 and 2015.
8. Although avian influenza A viruses usually do not infect people, rare cases of human infection with these viruses have been reported. It was in 1997 when humans first contracted bird flu following an outbreak in a live bird market in Hong Kong. It was the H5N1 strain of the virus, and 6 out of 18 infected humans died of the disease.
9. The reported signs and symptoms of avian influenza in humans have ranged from mild to severe and included conjunctivitis, influenza-like illness (e.g., fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches) sometimes accompanied by nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting, severe respiratory illness (e.g., shortness of breath, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress), and neurologic changes (altered mental status, seizures), according to CDC.
10. According to the union ministry of animal husbandry, avian flu spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during the winter months from September-October to February-March.